In the 14th century Europe experienced one of the worst crises in recorded human history which saw war, famine and plague decimate the population. In Ireland this crisis developed in a society already wracked by deep divisions and political upheaval.
Although brewing for decades this crisis began in earnest in 1315 when one of the worst famines of medieval history gripped Ireland.This was followed by a period of extreme violence between the resurgent Gaelic Irish and the Norman Barons. The crisis reached its zenith when the Black Death struck Ireland killing between 30% and 50% of the population in 1348 and early 1349.
This 14th century crisis is the subject of an upcoming audiobook I am writing at the moment and here’s a taste of what to expect!
The 1916 proclamation, the manifesto of the 1916 rebels, states
“The Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all its citizens, and declares its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and of all its parts, cherishing all the children of the nation equally, and oblivious of the differences carefully fostered by an alien government, which have divided a minority from the majority in the past.”
These noble aspirations would become almost a bible of Irish Republican ideals but little did the authors know that within six years, Irish people would have a chance to implement them after The War of Independence in 1922. However the society established after the war of independence “The Irish Free State” was a pale shadow of even the most modest interpretation of this document.
Civil liberties were almost non existent, citizens were not equal with women becoming second class while the poor were plunged further in destitution. The history of early Irish Independence is often passed over with a less than critical eye that glorifies state building at any cost. However behind this abstract veneer lies the story of a dark authoritarian regime based on repression, discrimination and censorship. This was enforced by deeply authoritarian attitudes underscored by severe catholic morality which stifled culture and allowed no political debate or opposition of any kind. By 1937 the “The Irish Free State” had created a society that had betrayed the ideals of what many had set out achieve two decades earlier. (more…)
Episode 8 sees medieval Ireland stand of the edge of a precipice. A rootless struggle for control of the O Neill kingdom breaks out in the North, while in Munster a new comer to the podcast – the Dal Cais challengthe King of Munster for power in the South. While Ireland is on the verge of chaos we look at these wars and how people struggled through a very tough period of not only war but famine, hard winters and an out break of leprosy and dysentery. By the end of the show Medieval Ireland will have changed and Brian Boru will have started his rise to power……
To Download “right click” on the link below and go to “save link as” or on a mac press ctrl click
Back in the late 1990’s when Ireland’s economy started to grow for the first time in centuries the government, instead of building schools and hospitals, decided Dublin needed a clock in the river Liffey that counted down to the millennium. Officially called “The Millennium Clock”, it was dubbed “The time in the slime”. It took the shape of a massive digital clock counting down to the Jan 1st 2000, in case anyone forgot about the most publicised event in history.
Any clock submerged in a river needs to be waterproof and correctly able to count time. This clock could do neither – it leaked and got the time wrong and was eventually removed to the comforts of a warehouse where it counted down the millennium in peace free from rusty bicycles and traffic cones.
In 1961 the Evening Standard Newspaper celebrated its centential with a special supplement looking at Dublin over the previous hundred years (1861 – 1961). This supplment contained these fascinating early photos of Dublin before and after Independence in 1921. The change in Dublin’s streetscape is dramatic, illustrating what the city was like when it had a functioning public transport system and before cars were invented. Only one of the photo’s was dated and I can only date those relating to the Civil War. If you can help date the others please leave a comment below. There are higher resolution pictures of the originals in the slideshow at the end of the post
I am 32 year old historian, archaeologist and blogger. I have published a book on life in medieval Ireland entitled 'Witches, Spies and Stockholm Syndrome, life in Medieval Ireland'. I also organise tours of medieval Dublin, available on request.